She makes three million people laugh. on daily basis. And all the time it looks completely effortless. So, we can’t help but wonder what motivates the 26-year-old to keep delivering superhit content one after the other? Niharika NM, who is popular for her hilarious comedy sketches with superstars and boastful videos on social media, recently came to Sharjah to speak at a panel discussion organized by the bustling Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) Which ended this week.
Niharika, a leading global digital content creator, announced her unprecedented entry into the international entertainment landscape by starring in the American sitcom Big Mouth Season 7, available for streaming on Netflix. Securing a unique space as a guest character, the content creator will represent the experiences of Indian teenage girls navigating the complexities of puberty for the animated American series.
Sharing the screen with internationally renowned celebrities like Megan Thee Stallion, Maya Rudolph, Jordan Peele, Padma Lakshmi, Don Chandler, Jack Woods, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Lupita Nyong’o and other extraordinary talents, the social media star will lend her voice. A character driven entirely by his own personal qualities. “I don’t really know how to feel about it because before I can process one thing, another has happened. “I’m really enjoying the process and taking it one day at a time,” confesses Niharika, when we sit down for a chat after her power-packed, full-house session at SIBF.
Although she’s been creating content for more than 10 years, the social media star experienced a meteoric rise during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, gaining millions of followers who found solace in her comedy videos on Instagram. And even though comedy is all about timing and very little to do with a formula, Niharika admits that her early interest in comedy began as a defense mechanism. She adds, “I was a really fat kid, so most of the jokes I told early on were ‘fat jokes’ about me.”
However, what started as self-deprecating humor became a way for the little nebula to cope. “I thought if I told these jokes about myself, I could take the power away from other people and if they laughed at my jokes, I could fit in with the cool kids. “I was the fat, clown friend they could take everywhere.”
She adds, “As I grew up, I realized that humor doesn’t always have to be self-deprecating. Sometimes, putting yourself down isn’t fun. I realized that you can find humor in anything; You don’t have to make jokes about yourself or put someone else down to be funny. That’s when my perception of mood changed. “I stopped using humor as a weapon and started using it as a tool.”
We often hear that a person must have thick skin to survive on social media. But what does this mean for someone who literally grew up on the Internet? “For a very long time, I didn’t know if I was really made for social media,” says Niharika. “If someone said something negative about me, I would take it to heart because I “Had to deal with all these things from a very young age.”
But now that she has grown up, she believes she knows better than to fall prey to trolls. “I realized that I was taking the words of people who have no faces on the internet too seriously. “Not every opinion is a fact.” Niharika says. “It’s not all about me; It’s about what I can do. And what I do on the internet is play-acting, so what people are judging is a piece of content I’ve created; They are not judging me. I have started to recognize it,” she adds.
Being an early adopter of content creation and growing up in the public eye, Niharika had no roadmap or blueprint to follow. The pressures of the social media game forced the content creator to take a temporary break from it, although his passion for creating content kept drawing him back. “There was no such thing as building an economy at that time. “I had to make my own mistakes and learn from them,” says Niharika.
Recalling a defining moment from last year, she says, “It was only last year that I made up my mind that I would become a full-time content creator.” He realized this when he had to choose between a career in social media and his dream job at Google. Passing up the job offer was in many ways a transformative moment in Niharika’s life, which is when she decided that a career in social media would be her full-time job. “You know, my dream was always to be in a corporate job at the Google office or the Facebook office. I always pictured myself as an entrepreneur, doing big things, wearing power suits and click-clack heels. That was the overall vision that I had,” she adds.
“To completely change it, it took me a while to process it and tell myself, ‘Okay, this was my dream till now, but now this (being a content creator) is my dream. And this is what I discovered about myself,” she adds. However, this realization did not come easy for the content creator, who found it difficult to leave the safety net of a steady 9-5 job. “I don’t like the fact that 9-5 jobs are getting such a bad rap,” says Niharika, who has several academic degrees. “A stable job comes with a lot of benefits,” she says.
“You know you will get a salary at the end of the month. Now, as a content creator, if you are just starting out or unless you have a big platform and followers, no brand will pay you. So what will you do? What will you eat, your hobby?” She replies in classic Niharika-manner. “You can’t eat your passion, that’s why I say, make money. You need your job, you need education because you need bread and butter. There is no point in being emotional and heartbroken. You won’t be happy and you’ll start hating your passion. You will start hating the world thinking that it is not fair. So, be emotional but don’t be foolish,” she adds.
Be it making headlines on global platforms like the Cannes red carpet or creating viral content with a superstar like Priyanka Chopra in a short span of just a year, Niharika’s achievements stand testimony to the fact that she is nothing but ‘silly’ Have been. And the kind of engagement she enjoys on social media supports this.
When asked how she ‘cracked’ the algorithm code when almost every video of hers crosses the one million mark, she says, “I think I have figured it out actually. I’ve learned that you don’t have to work for the algorithm, the algorithm works for you. The moment you start working for the algorithm, churning out content that you think will work, that’s when you stop growing. Audiences and algorithms can easily figure out what isn’t authentically you.
According to the content creator, there is no magic formula in the numbers game. “Sure, you can follow the trends. If you use that trending audio, you can have a video that will get millions of views. But what about the next one? So, it is not about following trends. “It’s about setting them up.”